Navigate / search

Video: Colin Waugh Talks About The 1909 Ruskin College Strike

Colin Waugh was a teacher in Ruskin College for many years as a teacher.  Here Colin gives a talk about the formation of Ruskin College, the development of the Independent Working Class Education movement and The Plebs League.  This surge of public interest to create educational opportunity for the working classes by the working classes became a national movement. It was later called the National Council of Labour Colleges.

Still functioning in 1964, Colin tells the story about how tens of thousands of working-class people both taught and learnt by creating their own resources and generating their own networks. The basic aim was that the working class should produce its own thinkers and organisers outside of the existing education system which tended to cater for the financially better off.

We can find reference to this social movement in the autobiographies and memoirs of various labour movement leaders through the 1930s, 40s and 50s, all of which refer to the Plebs League and the Ruskin strike. Academic historians have hardly paid attention to these initiatives, relegating a significant part of cultural history to scarce comment. Most histories of adult education assume that the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) was the only significant development in provision of educational opportunities. The accounts often ignore the Independent Working Class Education movement altogether or see it as an obstacle which briefly held back the Workers Education Association.

Here you get an account which is rich in detail and historical research from someone who is a part of the lineage of the tradition being spoken about.  A rare and profound history shared in a social space.

Leave a comment

name*

email* (not published)

website